HAMLET – While many young boys join Boy Scout troops every year all over the nation, very few end up bearing the title of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). However, 17-year-old Jonathan Carter will achieve the designation very soon, just in time for his 18th birthday.
Jonathan Carter, member of Hamlet Boy Scout Troop 527, is in the process of attaining Eagle Scout, in which only 4 percent of boy scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process.
The title of “Eagle Scout” is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle”. There is a list of requirements that a boy scout must meet to be considered an Eagle Scout which includes earning a number of merit badges and demonstrating Scout spirit, service and leadership, as well as, organizing, leading, and managing an extensive service project.
Carter just finished his service project Saturday morning at Hamlet City Lake. His project focused on an issue he is very passionate about, the repopulation of wood ducks. Wood ducks faced extinction in the earlier part of the 19th century, but projects like Carter’s have caused an increase in recent decades.
Carter serves on the Richmond County Ducks Unlimited Committee, and has been building and putting out wood duck nesting boxes in efforts to boost population growth for a year now. For his service project, he decided to build 15 duck boxes and focused on the Hamlet City Lake area since it doesn’t receive much attention and has a large duck population.
Part of the stipulation for Eagle Scout service projects is that all goods, materials and labor must be donated.
“I was overwhelmed with the amount of support I received with only a simple ask,” Carter expressed.
To make his project come to life, materials were donated from Carney McDonald of Hamlet Hardware, George Hodges and Ralph Yates donated cedar wood, Al’s Plumbing provided about $200 worth of pipe, Randy Jacobs provided bolts, nuts, and a boat to put out the boxes, Craig Collins provided the space for the woodwork, toilet flanges and wire mesh, and John Gardener of Convenience Corner provided hotdogs for the crew.
A big part of becoming an Eagle Scout is demonstrating leadership, and Carter fulfilled this in assembling a crew consisting of members of his own troop as well as boy scouts from other troops in the surrounding area, ranging from ages nine to 13 to help with the installation of the duck boxes.
The duck boxes took three Saturdays to construct and are made of cedar wood, to prevent decay, mounted to a PVC pole by toilet flanges. Internally, the boxes are filled with cedar shavings for nesting material which will be replaced every 6 months. A wire screen is attached under the opening which, in time, will allow the baby birds to exit the nest.
“I’ve been in Boy Scouts all my life, but I had never really considered becoming an Eagle Scout,” Carter said. “This is all through the advice and support of Greg Shelley that I am pursuing this rank.”
Greg Shelley, a Unit Commissioner in the Boy Scouts of America, says he found out that Carter was a boy scout, but not in pursuit of the Eagle Scout title “by accident”. A family friend, Shelley was over for dinner one night when Carter’s parents, Bryan and Deanna Carter, casually brought up the fact that he was not getting his Eagle and his 18th birthday is right around the corner.
In order to become an Eagle Scout, a candidate has to complete all requirements before his 18th birthday. With Carter’s birthday coming up on February 14th, he had only about a month and a half to organize the service project and complete the application process.
Listening to words of the wiser, Carter begin to realize the benefits of obtaining this esteemed rank.
Shelley, also understanding how important it is to be an Eagle Scout because he bears the elite title as well, actively “prodded Carter and kept him focused to complete this achievement.”
“A lot of boys get to the very end and fall by the wayside for whatever reason,” Shelley said. “And I wasn’t going to let him miss out of one of the greatest opportunities.”
All in all, Carter is very happy with his decision and says that he has learned about himself and life in the process.
“This was a very difficult process to manage while working at the Berry Patch in addition to my schoolwork,” he said. “I have always been very shy and I never really lead anything, and through this experience, I’ve learned that I’m a very hard worker and a leader.”
Carter currently attends Richmond County Early College and hopes that by attaining Eagle Scout it will help him in his future endeavors once he achieves his degree in Industrial Maintenance.